You know how you can get a song stuck on your mind, and it plays over and over and over and over, day and night, no matter how hard you try to erase it? Well, this is kind of like that.
You know how it is when you have a sore tooth, or a canker sore, or a spot on your cheek where you bit down unexpectedly, and now it is all swollen and painful? You know how, when that happens, you can’t stop your tongue from prodding and probing and making the pain worse? Well. This is just like that.
I can’t seem to let it go. I can’t force myself to stop poking that sore spot, to stop probing the painful, erupting lesion that is the gun violence issue.
See, I’m a teacher. I’m a mother. I made a choice almost thirty years ago to dedicate my life to taking care of children. It’s just what I do.
How can I step back and stop thinking about the threats that face my kids every single day?
I can’t. So I lie awake in my bed and I poke and I prod and I toss and I turn and I tremble. I cannot make myself turn it off.
As I try to fall asleep, I find myself arguing with those who declare with confidence that “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” I find myself shaking my head as it lies on my pillow, and I hear my cry of rage as I try to explain that “People with fucking GUNS kill people!”
I stand under the hot shower spray, trying to relax and get ready for my day. I try to clear my mind, but I can. Not. Do. It. I can’t disconnect my heart and my brain from the problem that is giving me such pain. Instead of enjoying the warmth, I stand there in the steamy heat and argue as hard as I can against those who claim that they have a fundamental “right” to carry any weapon they want to carry, no matter who will die because of their choice.
I am sleepless and irritable. I am impatient and tired and weepy. My blood pressure needs me to step back. My crazy arrhythmic heart needs me to detach from the insanity. I am just an aging fifth grade teacher. I need to let other people fight this fight.
But I can’t do it.
I find myself caught in the amazingly circular illogic of the “gun rights” argument. I find myself speechless, my jaws agape, my eyes bulging in disbelief as I listen to the arguments of the NRA and its supporters.
I won’t go into all of the nonsense now; I can’t! My brain will surely explode if I try. Instead, I will focus on the one unbelievable argument that has kept me spinning for the past two weeks. Its an argument that I have read on line, heard on talk radio, and seen on TV. But most incredibly to me, it is an argument that I have heard from some of my closest relations.
It is an argument that has been made to me by people who are former military and who right now work for, wait for it…..
The US Government.
What makes this so shocking? Well, when I ask the question (over and over and over again) “Why on earth would anyone need a military grade assault weapon whose only purpose is to kill as many people as possible in as little time as possible?” the answer that I keep getting is that the weapons are necessary “In case the government becomes a tyrannical dictatorship who intends to take away all of our rights! We must rebel! We must fight back!”
Uh. You mean you intend to use your weapon to murder government agents? Like, your colleagues in the government? Your gonna kill them?
You mean that you plan to rise up and use violence to oppose laws with which you disagree?
Scuse me? How is this not domestic terrorism? How is this not criminal?
How is it that every single government official isn’t standing right up in their tax-payer -supported seats and shouting out, “Hey! If you threaten to kill government officials, you are EXACTLY the kind of people who we all agree should never have weapons!”
How the hell is this kind of talk even allowed?
I don’t get it.
So I stay awake all night trying to wrench it all into a shape that makes some kind of sense.
A few years ago my children, all young adults, joined in the Occupy Wall Street movement. They went to New York, they held up some poorly painted cardboard signs, and they walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. Traffic was slowed down, and the marchers all got arrested. As in, “sent to jail for walking across the bridge.” Some of the people who observed this activity accused my non-violent, chanting, singing children of being “unpatriotic”. They said, “If you don’t like this country, why don’t you leave?!”
Now we have thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of citizens who state publicly that they fully intend to use their weapons to mow down any federal agent who tries to enforce any law that they deem to be “tyranny”.
I notice that they are not being arrested. They are not being called “unpatriotic”, although I can’t imagine anything less patriotic than what they are screaming. They are not being put on watch lists, or “you shouldn’t have a gun because you’re a threat” lists. They aren’t being told to “leave” even though they clearly fear and hate the country in which they live.
So I don’t get it.
I can’t stop tossing and turning and poking my tongue into the wound that was left after Tucson and Aurora and Sandy Hook. I try, but I can’t let it go.
See, I am not particularly afraid of my government.
But I am scared to death of the people who want to use 800 rounds from their Bushmasters to express their political opinions.
Where is the public outcry?